It was early days of the glorious Australian summer (the period of brass-monkey weather in the rest of the world) when we landed in Sydney. Not wasting a second, we immediately put on our bathers and sunnies and headed straight to Bondi Beach, with the intention to complete the famous Bondi to Coogee walk.
Truth be told, we didn’t anticipate such a wonderful hike, with never-ending stunning views guiding our way forward. We’re proud to have collected a list of places you absolutely must visit on this walk, as well as tips to make the whole ordeal risk-free and exciting!
Oh, and how can we forget about dozens of pictures (and magnificent drone shots) that have been sitting in our hard drives for weeks now, waiting for their time to shine (the idea for this article might have started as a way to showcase the beautiful pictures). Don’s act the goat, mate, and take notes!
- What is the Bondi to Coogee Walk?
● How long is it?
● How hard is it?
- Is it better to walk Coogee to Bondi or Bondi to Coogee?
- A detailed breakdown on what you’ll see
- Our tips and thoughts
What is the Bondi to Coogee walk? The details and our experience
The Bondi to Coogee Walk is a coastal walking trail located in the eastern part of Sydney. The beautiful walk is famous for having copious number of stops: You’ll find little bays, alcoves, and five beaches along the way.
We believe that this walk is a must-do when in Sydney: Even if you have only a couple days in the city, you’ve got to make time to take on this breathtaking bushwalk. Otherwise, your Sydney experience won’t truly be complete.
You know how we decide that a popular hotspot or an activity is worth attention? It’s simple: If locals and tourists alike flock to the place, then it’s for sure something that we want to check out immediately.
That’s how we settled on doing this coastal walk — there are lots of locals on the trail, no matter the season or time of day. The path is one of the more picturesque ways to get to the little beaches in-between Bondi and Coogee (more on them later), while also being the ultimate trail for runners and ordinary “walkers” on their promenades. The dogs are allowed on the path (on leash; there’s an off-leash area at Trenerry Reserve in Coogee), so you’ll get to meet dozens of cute furry hiking companions — if this doesn’t make you want to put on your walking shoes and head to the starting point, we don’t know what will!
It was quite interesting to learn that the trail, which seemingly doesn’t need much upkeep (mother nature has already done the hardest part of the work), was once used as a way to create jobs during the period of high unemployment rates of the early 1930s. Due to the fact, the paved path is the way it is today: Very comfort-oriented (although, sadly, not wheelchair accessible) and tidy-looking. You know you’re in Australia when you’re walking on the side of the cliff with handrails, neat steps, and trashcans guiding your way!
How long is the Bondi to Coogee walk?
The Bondi to Coogee walk distance one way is around 6,6 kilometers. It took us two hours total to complete, and that included plenty of stops to fly our drone, take thousands of pictures and just have some moments to take it all in. You don’t have to go all the way back to where you’ve started the trail — there are lots of bus stops to take you home.
The scenery is best absorbed at a leisurely pace, and we couldn’t believe how many runners we encountered along the way: Blazing midday sun was bad enough, without the added physical strain!
The hike can be finished in under two hours if you’re a fast walker. Still, we recommend putting off at least three hours for the whole walk, since you might want to spend some time at one of the beaches: Swimming, lying on the sand and relaxing. Grabbing a bite to eat also takes some time, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
How hard is the Coogee to Bondi or Bondi to Coogee walk?
Are there any dangerous areas on the path? Look, as we’ve already mentioned before, remember that this walk is located in Australia. This means that the whole path is clearly well-maintained with handrailings, paved walkways, signs, and other safety precautions needed to create a wonderful and risk-free experience for everybody. The cliffs do look dramatic in pictures, even with visible safety measures, which can give you a daredevil reputation among your friends!
- The only high-risk activity on the trail is swimming in unregulated areas of the beaches. Follow the rules and swim between the flags, otherwise the rip currents can create a situation you don’t want to be in!
As for other systems that make your walk a pleasing one, every beach has restrooms, water fountains with clean filtered water, and beach kiosks so that you can stock up on snacks for the walk ahead.
How hard is the Coogee to Bondi walk (or vice versa), in general? The track is suitable for all ages and fitness levels, although there are some steep steps (not many) along the way. You cover the majority of the stairs at the very beginning: It’s the part of the path leading up to Bondi Beach Icebergs Pool. From here on out, you walk on a pretty flat ground, with little incline, which is pretty nice, leaving you with plenty of energy to look around and enjoy yourself.
One thing that can make or break your entire experience is the crazy Australian weather. Strong winds blowing from the sea make it hard for you to relax, and heavy rain can force you to cut your walk short.
As for our personal experience of walking from Bondi to Coogee, our nemesis was the sun. Even with a thick layer of SPF and plenty of water, we wanted to tap out and get off the path at the earliest chance after just passing by Bronte Beach. We’re glad we didn’t quit though: The views got even better and the heat became more bearable closer to the end of our walk.
Our efforts didn’t come from a place of adventure and curiosity: The reasons to continue were purely practical. You see, the only location on the trail where you can travel directly to Sydney’s downtown, without having to change transport, is Coogee Beach. So we decided to stick it out and were not at all disappointed with our choice!
Is it better to walk Coogee to Bondi or Bondi to Coogee?
The question of where do you start the Bondi to Coogee walk isn’t very hard to answer: Depending on where you’re staying, choose whichever point is closer to you. It’s very impractical to drive all the way to Bondi Beach purely for the start of the hike if your hotel is near the Coogee area.
However, there are some minor points that can nudge you towards firmly deciding on the starting point of your walk:
- One of the pros of going from Bondi to Coogee is the sun’s position in the sky that is favorable for taking great pictures. This point works especially well if you’re planning to go out on the path in the first half of the day.
- On the other hand, Coogee to Bondi walk seems to be more logical in terms of end-of-the-walk tasty rewards: Bondi Beach has a wider array of places to eat and relax after the hike.
If you decide to stick with our plan, without reversing it the other way around, then you would surely like to know about the continuation of the trail after Coogee Beach. Bondi to Coogee trail is considered to be a pretty easy walk, especially for people with great levels of fitness. So, while you’re experiencing the elusive hikers’ high, get another must-do Sydney accomplishment under your belt! You can go on 6 kilometers further than Coogee Beach completing the whole of the Bondi to Maroubra coastal walk (12 kilometers total).
Not into outdoor activities? Don’t worry, the stakes here are super manageable: You can get off the trail at every beach along the path.
Bondi to Coogee walk — what will you see? Our route breakdown
Okay, there’s so much beauty you’re going to encounter on your walk, we don’t even know where to start…
- White-capped waves in every shade of green and blue (the famous Bondi Color),
- golden beaches,
- sandstone cliffs,
- giant boulder rocks,
- wonderful viewpoints,
- million-dollar houses,
- gorgeously tanned people
- and an overall Cali-like vibe of health and wellness of this part of Sydney
…this walking route is brimming with arresting views!
Get ready to get completely off your rocker: In winter months, you can get lucky and spot some whales and dolphins swimming along the coast. That’s crazy that you can have these encounters for absolutely free of charge.
While these particular sightings aren’t guaranteed, you will one hundred percent encounter a plethora of coastal birds: From colorful parrots to loud cormorants (who kind of resemble penguins when you look at them from far away).
Now that you have your birdwatcher manifesto for the walk sorted, here are eight of the most notable points you’ll come across on your path. Remember that your walking route can start and end on any of them, so create your own itinerary according to your tastes.
Bondi Beach and surfers
Bondi Beach is the iconic crescent-shaped golden sand beach that immediately comes to mind when you think about Sydney tourist attractions (well, after the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House).
It was our personal Bondi to Coogee walk starting point. As we looked around, before setting off on the walking trail, we came to realize why this beach was and continues to be so popular:
- Ripper waves that are inviting to both local and international surf lovers. Have you seen a surfer lately? Their athletic physique is a sight pleasing to your eyes, no matter your personal preferences.
- Speaking of good-looking people, the world-famous Bondi lifeguards that were main stars on the Bondi Rescue series are here to save the day! Hopefully you won’t need their emergency services, but you can enjoy looking at these brave fit blokes from afar, without needing to get into trouble. One of the most popular attractions on Bondi Beach was created in part thanks to the lifeguards, keep reading to learn more!
- The beach is about a 15–20 minute drive from Sydney’s CBD, and the consequences of the location are two-fold. First, you can get your beach vibes on in almost no time, whenever you feel like it. Second, this closeness to the city center means that the shore is usually overcrowded. They say that on the busiest summer day the number of beachgoers can reach 40,000 people! That’s a lot, considering that the beach itself is only one kilometer in length, and not awfully wide.
- If you aren’t a fan of simply lying around on the sand and you crave more fun and action, come to Bondi Beach in July, when Bondi Festival takes place right by the water. It’s a winter arts festival for all ages, and it will be a great way to start your walk, piping you up with energy needed to complete the hike.
- Art lovers of calmer nature can enjoy an evening promenade along the beach’s back wall, which is covered in graffiti art. The pieces change every six months, since artists get the permit only for this time slot. You can find lots of local visionaries’ unique points of view on the wall as you make your way towards the Iceberg Baths.
As with sunbathing, swimming at Bondi Beach is the ultimate activity that you can brag about to your friends. Remember to swim between the flags! If you don’t need the “top Sydney beach swimmer” novelty badge, you can skip going into the water here altogether: Other beaches on your path are much more appealingly secluded and thus not as crowded.
Bondi Icebergs pool
The legendary saltwater pool that is located on the southern end of Bondi Beach, the Bondi Icebergs is a sight to see (and to experience!).
It’s one of the most widely known oceanside pools in Australia: You probably have seen the pictures of it online, and how can you forget the gorgeous turquoise waters of the large pool overlooking the ocean, with waves splashing over the railings?
The pool is the place you want to come back to the second you lose its sight: We know that our screensavers will long remain one of the Bondi Iceberg’s pictures as seen from above, it’s a quintessential part of the memories we made in Australia.
- Why do the pools have icebergs in their name? Well, as we alluded to before, it all comes down to the lifeguards. Their Icebergs Swimming Club needed a place to train during winter time, and they practically moved into the building, known before as Bondi Baths.
There are lots of cool things to try inside the Pools: Starting with swimming the length of the main 50-meter pool and taking the photos by its edge, checking out the smaller kiddie pool, trying out the SPA amenities, and simply enjoying the view from the terrace with a coffee and some food.
No wonder such an amazing place has an allure of exclusivity: The rumors about the pool being members-only or open exclusively to Bondi residents are going around to this day. Thankfully, this heaven on earth is open to the public, requiring you to pay an adult admission fee of AU$9 ($6).
Marks Park viewpoint
As you go past Bondi Icebergs and finally embark on one of the greatest coastal walks in the world, look out for the peculiar spot nestled among the limestone cliffs. While this viewpoint is not on any maps (unlike the famous and always crowded MacKenzie Point), you will know it when you find it. It’s a tiny space on the path, from where you can see the entirety of Bondi Beach, in all its glory.
In this spot, you can find a small plate with historical information about the Bondi area; all the wonderful tidbits of knowledge about the neighborhood before it became this surfer and hipster mecca it is today. We aren’t in any way judging the state of the area, it’s just the consequences of passing time: Gentrification follows the masses, and Sydney’s most popular beach is no exception.
Stop at the viewpoint for a hot minute, catch your breath, and move along to the second beach of the walk.
Tamarama Beach is Bondi beach’s closest neighbor that sees a lot less action than the latter Sydney’s icon. It’s a pretty small beach bookended by high cliffs with expensive-looking houses on both ends. The vibes created by the layout are quite cozy, it’s like you’re being kept safe from some danger.
Unfortunately, the beach isn’t as safe as it seems to be: The waves here are pretty dangerous and there are plenty of rips that want to clash you on the sharp rocks on either side of the shore. Because of this, Tamarama beach isn’t that popular among swimmers (although lifeguards patrol the beach most of the time).
When we were passing the area, we didn’t see a single swimmer, only a couple of brave (or reckless, depends on how you look at it) surfers bobbing in the water among pretty scary-looking waves.
This beach is perfect for tanning and other activities that don’t include water: Playing beach volleyball, walking around the neighboring park, grabbing a few drinks from the nearest café and just spending time outside in the sun. Some locals coined the beach Glamourama, as the Instagram influencers and bloggers love to post their beautifully staged pics from its sands.
We recommend grabbing yourself a refreshment at the beach kiosk, taking a few mandatory pictures and going on with your walk, there’s plenty of exciting things to see!
Bronte beach and baths
One of the most cozy-looking beaches of the eastern suburbs of Sydney, Bronte Beach is everything you want it to be and more! Greatly appreciated by locals, the beach can get quite crowded, but not to the point of Bondi beach. As we were coming closer, we could make out quite a few people sunbathing on the golden sand.
Located in a very picturesque area, the beach is guarded by cliffs on both sides, with lots of rocks creating a small opening for you to get into the water. The waters here can also get quite dangerous, but there are a couple of solutions to this problem:
- The free (!) rockpool on the southern side of the beach: Bronte baths is a strong contender to Bondi Icebergs pool. For starters, it doesn’t require you to pay an admission fee; plus, it’s only a little bit smaller than its counterpart, at 30 meters in length. There’s plenty of room for you to swim without bumping into people, as well as areas to put down your towel and get your Vitamin D on.
- The curiously named Bogey Hole: This formation appears as a naturally formed small pool among the rocks. This attraction can be seen only at low tide, and is a great place for children to come play, without the risks of swimming in open waters.
If you, like us, get super hungry as soon as you start your hikes (and snacks aren’t simply cutting it anymore), you can find quite a few food establishments across the road. Some of the more notable ones are:
- The Bogey Hole Café — depending on what you’re in the mood for, you can get a table outside and order either a BLT sandwich with a beer or Eggs Benedict paired with coffee — everything will be mouth-wateringly delicious, that’s a guarantee!
- The Coop — the spot that you can see from a mile away: Their pink chairs and tables are very recognizable. They serve the best coffee on the block; plus, they have plenty of vegan food options!
Now that you’re fueled up and determined to continue your walk, head out to the next beach on the itinerary, but not before having a little crisis about your mortal existence. We know, why go that deep? You see, these are the feelings we personally get when walking close to the cemetery. Yes, your eyes don’t deceive you, you can find the Waverley Cemetery on your way to Clovelly Beach. When the sea gets too rough, sometimes the path will lead you straight through the cemetery itself, and not on the edge of the cliff.
Don’t worry, it’s not as grotesque as you imagine: It’s actually quite boogie, to have your final resting place in such a beautiful location (the view is to die for…pun intended)! We know the ghosts here are some of the luckiest eternal beings, so they (maybe) won’t haunt you as much as other spirits do.
Another one of Sydney’s tiny beaches, it might not even show up on your radar. As you’re getting closer to the end of your walk, you’re more focused on what’s to come after the next turn, and then the next, and the next… Trust us, you need to pay attention to this particular beach!
A very unique shape of the beach (extremely elongated, with human-made cement platforms on either side and a tiny sand area at the top) is partly a consequence of a pretty steep descent into the sea. There are lots of stairs and railings to safely get you into the water, as jumping off the platforms is hazardous and will not get you on good terms with lifeguards.
The thing that attracts holiday-makers to the beach is its favorable environment for snorkeling: Bring a mask and explore the Clovelly beach’s colorful underworld. If you’re a proud owner of a GoPro, you can get some pretty exciting footage of sparkling schools of fish zigzagging their way among the corals, smart octopuses mimicking the color of the sea floor, and mean sea urchins waiting for you to come closer so they can puncture one of your limbs.
As you go past the beach, you catch sight of some awesome-looking beach houses that are for sure finding their way on your manifestation mood board (don’t knock it till you try it!). These are the ultimate dream houses that you want to spend the rest of your life in (go for them if you’re secretly a multi-millionaire).
It’s defo a beach, even though the strip of sand is super tiny: The majority of the space gets eaten up by wooden boat ramps (a pretty cool photo background, nonetheless). Beachgoers tend to disperse on every rock fit for leisuring, which is a unique sight to see! It may not sound very appealing, but trust us, Gordons Bay has a certain je ne sais quoi compared only to the coast of Italy.
The Bay is often referred to as the snorkeler’s paradise : The waters here tend to be calmer than those of neighboring beaches, and the sea floor is rich with marine life — from colorful little fishes to elegant manta rays, and even slow-moving turtles. If you’re fascinated with underwater life, follow the Gordons Bay Underwater Natural Trail — an experience you will never forget!
While swimming in the bay is not so hazardous, we recommend you don’t lose your focus — there are no guards on the beach, so you’re counting only on yourself to stay safe!
Gordons bay is best admired from above: On a clear day, as you round the corner leading up to the beach, the water is so translucent you can see the sea floor. The color of the water is a gorgeous shade of dark blue with a hint of bright green — all thanks to the mixed floor of sand and rocks.
Take in every last detail of the view, as your walk is coming to a close: You’re almost at the finish line!
Phew, you’ve made it! Your reward is an incredibly beautiful final beach of your oceanfront walk — Coogee beach. Famous for its long and wide stretch of golden sand, this beach is arguably the most family-friendly out of all beaches in the area. The waterfront infrastructure is on par with that of Bondi: There are bus stops, shops, different cafes and restaurants, and even a green park shadowing the wide promenade.
Coogee beach is, in our opinion, the best place to end your walk, as there are plenty of lounging areas to sit back and rest your feet: Shady sand parts of the beach, soft green grass patches in the park, or the long cement steps. Speaking of steps, one of the unique characteristics of the beach is its rainbow walkway, first created as a temporary installation in support of Sydney’s LGBTQ community. The colorful steps were well received by both tourists and locals, and the feature was made permanent.
After walking for hours under crazy strong Australian sun, you might want to take a quick refreshing dip in the Coogee waters. While it’s true that the waves here aren’t super high and safeguards patrol the area, you might still have some inhibitions about going in. You’re in luck, since the beach has two amazing rockpools on either side of it (pro tip: Southern rockpool is slightly better), so you can swim in peace.
If you want a more all-inclusive swimming experience, head a little further, and you will stumble upon Coogee’s two baths establishments with tidal pools:
- McIver’s Ladies Baths — a women- and children-only safe haven by the crowded Coogee beach. Entry costs just AU$2,50 ($1,65), but the overall experience you get is priceless! Swimming in the tidal pool feels exactly like being in the ocean with your mermaid gal pals!
- Wylie’s Baths — a gorgeous tidal pool with natural rock bottom and sea life (beware of pokey sea urchins!). The venue, apart from providing top-notch swimming experience, hosts a multitude of different events (from book releases to cooking classes and even concerts!). All the events come at an additional cost. The general admission fee to the pool is AU$6 ($4). If you really love the venue, you can even have your wedding ceremony here, just saying…
To sum up all the info, is Coogee beach better than Bondi beach? Well, yes and no: Bondi beach is the ultimate iconic landmark of Sydney. The only downside to this reputation is the reality that Bondi is practically swarming with people on any given day. Coogee has a more relaxed and local feel to it, creating better grounds for your much-needed relaxation. We feel like you should make a point of visiting both places to decide for yourself, and the Bondi to Coogee walk is the best way to accomplish this.
Our Bondi to Coogee walk tips and thoughts
We may be a little bit biased, since the coastal views are arguably our favorite. We fell in love with the trail from the get go and never looked back (aside from a couple of stops when we wanted to see our progress: You can actually count the bays and see how far you’ve come)!
Now that you know the main points of interest you will come across during your Bondi to Coogee walk, let’s focus more on the details that can make or break your overall hiking experience. Our tips for having the best possible walk:
- Before you embark on your journey, we recommend getting a little energy fuel into your system. Get a flat white with oat milk at the nearest McDonald’s. Yes, you’ve read that right: Aussies have the best coffee, so much so that even fast-food places have their own inhouse baristas that can make, excuse our language, a damn good cup of coffee! There are plenty more things you probably didn’t know about the Land Down Under, so we urge you to check out our article on Best Things to Know Before Going to Australia. You’ll be surprised how drastically Aussies differ from the rest of the world (in a good way)!
- Marks Park Point is a great spot for flying your drone: The views are epic, plus the passersby won’t be that bothered by the sound (compared to beach goers, who always treat a little buzzing as the ultimate end of their peace and quiet). The images you get of the coast lined with peculiarly shaped sandstone cliffs, as well as of waves splashing on the rocks are out-of-this-world amazing!
- What about food? There are plenty of beach kiosks virtually at every spot we’ve mentioned above, so you won’t be stranded without your trail snacks (and yes, a pack of Tim Tams is great fuel for the walk, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise!). If you are practically famished from all the walking, you can easily find a few cafes and restaurants at the bigger beaches, like Bondi, Coogee, or Bronte.
- As for other amenities, every beach has restrooms (or dunnies, as Aussies usually call them), showers, and water fountains. Aussies are very serious about each experience being comfortable and well-equipped, and it defo shows.
- Now, let’s get back to the question of sun. Bondi to Coogee is a coastal walk, which means that ocean breeze might deceive you into believing that the sun isn’t that harsh or dangerous. Trust us, it’s definitely not the case! Forgetting to put on your SPF or not bringing a hat with you might get you into trouble in no time: two hours in the sun is enough to make you look like a freshly cooked lobster.
- Remember about the common rules of beach etiquette: You cannot smoke or drink alcohol on any beach in Australia. This fact, especially the drinking part, can be lifesaving: Rip currents here are scary enough when you’re sober! Plus, tobacco is outrageously expensive in Australia, so you will be doing yourself a favor by quitting, even if for a short while.
- Public transport, in our opinion, is the best way to get to/from the walk’s starting point, as parking your own car in the area can be a real pain. If you’re coming from Sydney’s CBD, hop on a bus 333 that drops you off super close to Bondi Beach. The whole ride takes around 30 minutes or less (if you’re blessed with no traffic); and you can pay with your contactless card, which is super convenient!
If you decide to start your walk at Coogee Beach, then look out for the buses 370 and 372 to get to your beginning point.
- Bondi to Coogee walk parking is very hard to figure out. If you don’t want to use the very expensive services of car parks, you’re left with driving around the back streets in hopes of finding a free spot. Pay close attention to parking signs: They are notoriously hard to read, with some offering free parking for a limited time only (generally one, two, or four hours). Parking inspectors here are very thorough, so don’t expect to get out of a ticket by playing dumb!
In Bondi, you can park your car in a huge parking lot mere meters away from the beach. This proximity will cost you a pretty penny: spots here are expensive, at AU$9.50 ($6,30)/hour. Count the time you need to finish your walk and get back: It’ll add up into a small fortune!
In Coogee, parking is a little cheaper: You can expect to pay around AU$17 ($11,23) for four hours. As a rule of thumb, try to get to the beach super early, before 8 a.m., to snag a coveted spot (this also applies to Bondi beach).
Given the prices, we recommend simply taking an Uber to the beach: it will cost you around AU$30 ($19.80), and you don’t need to come back to the same place you started from!
Bondi to Cogee walk has left us thoroughly awe-stricken and impressed. We think that it will long remain the experience we judge the future coastal walks by! We hope that we inspired you to take on this adventure yourself, and we will be more than happy to answer the questions you might have about the walk — leave them in the comments below. Crikes, it’s getting late. Have a good one, mate! Hooroo!